Removals & Storage Spain / UK / Ireland / France

Moving to Barcelona

Are you Moving to Barcelona from UK ? Read our essential tips and information guide for a successful Barcelona move with Indalo Transport!

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Moving to Barcelona from the UK is your reference on this wonderful metropolitan city. Barcelona is a place where  british expats have to jostle for space with up to nine million tourists, and where the traditional laidback attitude and slow-paced lifestyle associated with Spain have seemingly been exiled far, far away. If you visit Spain, you must visit Barcelona.

Are you considering a move to Barcelona, the vibrant capital of Catalonia? With its stunning architecture, rich culture, and idyllic Mediterranean climate, it’s no wonder that many British citizens are drawn to this enchanting city. However, relocating to a new country can be a daunting task, involving various legal and administrative processes. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to moving to Barcelona, including essential information on the Spanish authorities and their requirements for visas, residency permits, healthcare, and more. Whether you’re a retiree seeking a sun-soaked retirement or a young professional looking for new opportunities, we’ve got you covered.

This expat guide to moving to Barcelona in 2023 will help you decide whether you’d like to move there or not. There is more info here on moving to the Spanish Costas. If you do decide to move, don’t forget to contact us for your removal to Spain

Where exactly is Barcelona?

Being Spain’s second-largest city, Barcelona is on the North East Coast of Spain, in the centre of the Catalonia region. Click on the picture above for a google map guide.

How can I get there?

By air, you can fly to Barcelona-El Prat Airport, which is a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Most airports within the UK offer affordable, direct flights to Barcelona, and you can get there in less than three hours.

For arrival by car, you can drive onto a ferry in Portsmouth or Plymouth, arrive in Bilbao or Santander, and then drive across to Barcelona, which should take you no more than six hours. Visit Brittany Ferries to book your tickets.

If you are moving and want a removal to Barcelona from the UK, then please contact us, as we specialise in removals from the UK to Spain.

Why Choose to move to Barcelona?

Catalonia is one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain. Its capital, Barcelona, is a major international cultural centre, as well as being the third most-visited city in Europe.

Here are our top three reasons why British expats are moving to Barcelona in 2023.

Reason #1 – No One Ever Gets Bored in Barcelona

expat in Barcelona - Indalo Transport

Even expats love sightseeing and the traditional touristy haunts of Barcelona

Barcelona is popular as an expat and tourist destination for many reasons. Honestly, you won’t have the chance to get bored here and there is something for all the family to enjoy!

You can shop in stylish boutiques, visit museums, breathe in creativity whilst you sip on coffee in an art café.  Or you can explore the city’s eclectic neighbourhoods and hunt for a bargain at one of its famous flea markets.

Other interesting things expats can see and do in Barcelona

  1. Arouse your curiosity at the Erotic Museum
  2. Just a stone’s throw from La Rambla, El Jardinet dels Gats is home to dozens of beautiful kittens who are waiting to be adopted. Most passers-by miss what’s going on behind the tall wire fence – cats curled up asleep in the sun, stretching to scratch a tree, and playing in the tunnels and boxes left out for their amusement. It’s like something straight out of a children’s story.
  3. Enjoy experimental theatre at the Sala Hiroshima. It’s a place to experience some of the most interesting performances in town.
  4. Seek out the Romans – One of the best preserved relics of the Roman Empire (the columns of the Temple of Augustus) can be found at Carrer Paradis 3.
  5. Celebrate a special event (like an anniversary or birthday) with a Photo Shoot Tour of your new home city. Awarded a Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor.
  6. Try a variety of classes including Authentic Spanish cookery, mosaics or watercolour painting
  7. Take up sailing
  8. Learn about the universe and star gaze at the Fabra Observatory
  9. Visit the open air museum of El Poble Espanyol which has 117 full-scale replicas of different buildings from all around Spain.


moving to Barcelona Indalo Transport

The nightlife in the city certainly packs a punch

The nightlife in the city certainly packs a punch as well. Even if clubbing isn’t your thing, Barcelona has a lot to interest expats. Cocktail bars, restaurants, pubs, theatres, music halls, galleries, you name it, it’s probably got it.

In addition, if you’re looking for an adventure, this expat guide to moving to Barcelona will certainly help provide ideas. You’ll definitely find more than enough to keep you going, long after the sun goes down.

Where to go to spend an evening when you move to Barcelona


A natural starting point for any new expat is, of course, Las Ramblas and, on either side of it, the narrow streets of the medieval Old Town.

Barcelona’s busiest boulevard by day, Las Ramblas is also heaving by night. Street performers still ply their trade and the pavements throng with locals and tourists heading out for drinks and dinner.

  • Best Restaurant: The Irati Taverna Basca is a gorgeous restaurant serving up traditional Basque cuisine. If you’re eager to try dishes from these proud people, then don’t look any further than here.
  • Top Entertainment Venue: Watch a Flamenco Show in Tablao Cordobes, where some of the biggest names in the history of flamenco have performed.


For the more authentic local venue, the labyrinthine alleyways and history-steeped backstreets of the Gothic Quarter await an adventurous expat. Here you’ll find scores of sassy little spots hidden away in dark corners.

  • Best Restaurant: Attic- first floor restaurant with a full view of the busy street of the Ramblas, serves Mediterranean cuisine.  Wooden decking, white canopies and orange trees makes for a truly romantic and summer-like setting. The terrace is also framed by two historic buildings, creating a truly unique and regal backdrop for a delicious Spanish meal.
  • The Best Cocktail Bar: Milk Bar
  • Top Entertainment Venue: El Bosc de Les Fades – its name means ‘fairy wood’, and this sangria-serving grotto just off the bottom end of Las Ramblas is decorated just like one. Fake trees, illusory mirrors, haunting music and simulated rainstorms are all part of the experience.


One of the most desirable areas to live in Barcelona, is for the trendily-attired expat who wants a more ‘hip’ and sophisticated slice of Barcelona’s nightlife. Here you’ll find history, culture and you can discover hidden hotspots and weird and wonderful surprises.

  • Best Restaurant: Petra – This is a typical Spanish restaurant for the locals. It is hidden on the corner of Carrer Banys Vells and is a little hard to find because there is no terrace or sign which tells you that it´s a restaurant. The menu is printed on wine bottles and they only serve fresh products. Prices are quite cheap compared to other restaurants.
  • The Best Cocktail Bar: Miramelindo
  • Top Entertainment Venue: The Palau de la Música. This is one of the finest concert halls in the world and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was designed by Lluís Domènech I Montaner, a contemporary of Gaudí. The hall is exquisitely decorated and has a very special skylight.


Located on the other side of the Ramblas, Raval is a bohemian’s paradise, it’s Barcelona’s most colorful district. Street kids play cricket or football and generally run riot as beatniks stroke their beards and order another chupito.

  • Best Restaurant: El Rincón de Aragón – a restaurant with traditional, home cooked Aragonese dishes. It has a familiar and welcoming atmosphere and a rustic, authentic and characterful interior.
  • The Best Cocktail Bar: Marmalade
  • Top Entertainment Venue: La Boqueria – a huge public market and one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The grand iron entrance leads into one of Europe‘s largest and most famous food markets. With fresh produce and providing a seemingly never-ending supply of exotic fruit smoothies and fresh lemonade.
moving to Barcelona Indalo Transport

25 things to do in Barcelona – US Video 10mins 40secs


‘The Addition’ is a grand, grid-patterned section of the Catalan capital which is residential… but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on! Trendy and vibrant, L’Eixample is a bustling area filled with young professionals, and the area around Casanova Street has been dubbed Gayxample.

For those missing a quiet pint or for a wee dram of exquisite whiskey, The Loch Inn in L’Eixample is a great place to call your new local.

  • Best Restaurant: Paco Meralgo – One of the best tapas bars in Barcelona – casually elegant and always busy. Their mix of delicious, high-quality food is accompanied by a large wine, cava, and champagne selection. Try their brie and asparagus dish, it’s phenomenal.
  • The Best Cocktail Bar: Slow Barcelona – A suave club which creates some pretty innovative concoctions
  • Top Entertainment Venue: L’Auditori – A cutting edge, classical music venue


Another area of Barcelona with an alternative vibe. Here, you’ll find a very Catalan quarter oozing with charisma and an energetic vibe – with not too many tourists, except those who lost their way trying to find Parc Guell. A quieter part of Barcelona, with an older, free-spirited and more genteel crowd.

  • Best Restaurant: La Pubilla – A bright and cozy restaurant that’s well-known throughout Barcelona for serving up the best menu del dia, or fixed price lunch menu. Beautifully creative presentation, top-notch quality and generous portions make this place a must for a chic Barcelona lunch. Reservations a must!
  • Top Entertainment Venues: For a low-key jazzy vibe try Woody’s.


Shh, keep it quiet, but these days the once unloved district of Poble Sec a.k.a. Dry Town is now considered to be a pretty hip barrio. Quirky, creative, relaxed and culturally diverse, this area has recently undergone something of a renewal and is quite enchanting.

  • Best Restaurant: Xemei – If you’re in the mood for a quick break from Spanish cuisine, this restaurant is the stand-out option. The simple yet exquisitely cooked Venetian haute cuisine means it’s normally full so it’s worth making a reservation.
  • Top Entertainment Venue: El Molino – Barcelona’s most famous theatre in the area is located on the equally famous Parallel Avenue. Expect risqué yet largely tasteful cabaret and burlesque shows.

Reason #2 – Barcelona Has A Wonderful Culture

moving to Barcelona Indalo Transport

Catalan culture, quirky architecture, funky street art and beautiful textiles – just some of the things which make up Barcelona’s culture

Barcelona is a lively, unusual, artistic city with a heart that hasn’t changed for over 500 years. Catalans are extremely proud of their identity, rich culture and beautiful language. This unique heritage blazed the trail for Spain’s 19th Century industrial revolution and artistic boom.

However, after Franco’s armies defeated the Republicans in 1939, the dictator banned the Catalan language, changed street names from Catalan to Castillian (Spanish), and censored their culture.

It was only after Franco’s death in 1975 that the Catalans restored their traditions, speech, and literature – thanks to the European Romantic movement – and reminded the world about its distinct culture.

This expat guide to moving to Barcelona in 2023 wouldn’t be complete without saying that there is a Catalan flair for beauty and love for art and music which is evident all over the city. British citizens will find it offers a feast of sculptures, galleries, concert halls, impressive architecture, art cafés, and fashion. It is the city of the young Picasso, of Miro and Tapies, of Modernista buildings by Gaudí, as well as the cutting edge structures by Gehry and Nouvel.

Catalans generally have a reputation for being hard-working, ambitious and conservative, and their folklore has been strongly influenced by Roman Catholicism.


Their love of superior fashion and the traditional importance they give textiles is reflected in Barcelona’s drive to become a major fashion centre.

The dress style in Barcelona is classed as formal for both men and women. Shorts are still vaguely catching on for ladies, but most of the time you will get a weird look when wearing shorts. Stick with skirts and dresses for the summer.

Very few European cities can compete with the cultural experiences on offer in Barcelona. The city celebrates its remarkable artistic legacy at every turn and British expats living there can while away hours exploring its numerous delights.

Reason #3 – Barcelona Has Beautiful Architecture

moving to Barcelona

An eclectic mix of design and architecture

Ornate medieval buildings appear alongside Gaudi’s unique modernist creations, ultra-contemporary, sleek high-rises stand shoulder to shoulder with ornate, ostentatious old churches, and traditional tapas bars intermingle with chic eateries and glamorous Michelin-starred restaurants.

Barcelona really is a mishmash of structures, and has a series of architectural works awarded the World Heritage designation by the UNESCO.

Other important things to consider when you move to Barcelona

Picturing yourself living in Barcelona is one thing, working out whether it’s feasible to actually live there is something entirely different. This moving To Barcelona in 2023 an Expat Guide will help with this section, about the cost of living and other things you need to know about.

The thought of spending long, warm summer days exploring the city’s maze of alleyways and narrow streets whilst immersing yourself in culture, treating yourself to a shopping trip, and smelling the intoxicating aromas of rice dishes and tapas as you go, is all well and good, but can you afford to do the shopping? Will you be able to cope with all that walking?

These are just some of the questions you’ve got to ask yourself, and below you’ll find all the other things you should consider before moving to Barcelona from the UK.

We’ve also thrown in a few tips and tricks on how to “Hack Barcelona” like a local. Moving to Barcelona means that this expat guide must talk about these things!

Cost of Living

euro barcelona cost of living

You’ll need more than other places here in Barcelona

The cost of living in Barcelona is over six per cent higher than it is in Spain’s capital, Madrid. Therefore, you really need to have substantial savings to start your new life here. When you move to Spain, the cost of spanish property in Barcelona is very hoigh, as in most European cities.

A cinema ticket will cost about €8, a gym membership will be around €40, a bus ticket costs more than €2, and most essential grocery items cost upwards of €1.50. For a gastronomic delight, a three-course meal will set you back about €40 per person.

That said, Spain is generally cheaper than other countries in the European Union.

To buy or sell things once you’re in Spain, try downloading the Segundamano app. It’s the most popular secondhand service in Spain, like a Gumtree, where people can sell and buy their used stuff.


Barcelona is a small, compact city of just under 40 square miles, making it smaller than London and similarly sized to Amsterdam. You can explore the city’s nooks and crannies, its 86 gardens and parks, plus its 3 miles of coast by foot. However, this can be incredibly tiring. Moving to Barcelona an expat guide suggests you read the following, to move around the city like a local.

bicing Barcelona

Bicing – Bikes that you can rent and park up anywhere around the city

  • Bicing to move around – If you like riding a bike, renting a Bicing bike is the perfect way to move around Barcelona. Very efficient, quick and simple.
  • Free parking outside of the city center – Parking in Barcelona city center can easily give you a headache. We highly recommend leaving your car on a free parking away from the city center and getting to your destination by metro.
  • Download the TMBApp – The official Barcelona public transport app. After downloading it and creating an account you can configure it to work best for you. Choose underground and bus lines, the ones you use most frequently, and get the access to their timetables. You will also get notifications with alerts about “your lines”.

Meeting new people if you are moving to Barcelona from UK

Try the Meetup App or join the website. This application is well-known all over the world but its particular value is shown when you arrive in a new place. Barcelona is a vibrant city and it would be a sin to just stay at home all the time. There are lots to British expats there and you’ll be bound to meet people and make friend when you are out and about.

If you want to make friends or acquaintances to jog with, go to yoga with, play golf, drink wine, watch a movie, on Meetup you’ll find groups with similar interests. Many of them are UK Nationals just like you, so chances are you’ll find someone with common interests when you move to Spain. It’s always worth trying at least once anyway!

Visas and Residency Permits

As a British citizen, your status has changed since the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. While UK nationals could previously enjoy the benefits of free movement within the EU, so it’s now essential to navigate the visa application process to legally reside in Spain.

The Spanish Visa you will need does depend on your circumstances. The Spanish government has implemented different types of visas to accommodate various circumstances. Let’s explore some of the most common options:

  1. Spanish Residence Permit: If you plan to become a Spanish resident and live in Barcelona for an extended period, you’ll need to apply for a Spanish residence permit. This process involves visiting the Spanish consulate in the UK first, submitting the necessary documentation, including your valid passport, and completing an interview. The residence permit allows you to live and work in Spain.
  2. Student Visa: If you’re planning to study at one of Barcelona’s renowned universities, you’ll need a student visa application. This visa enables you to reside in Spain while pursuing your education. The Spanish Government is very keen on giving you a student visa if you’re eligible.
  3. Non-Lucrative Visa: This visa application is suitable for individuals who don’t intend to work in Spain but have sufficient funds to support themselves. It’s an excellent option for retirees or those with remote work opportunities.
  4. Work Visa: If you’ve secured a job offer in Barcelona, your prospective employer will assist you with your visa application. This visa application should be submitted to the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country.

Residency Application and Registration

Residencia Indalo Transport

For all British citizens moving to Barcelona, it’s crucial to consult with the relevant Spanish authorities or a reputable immigration lawyer. This is to understand the specific visa requirements and ensure a smooth transition. After you have been in Spain a certain amount of time you can apply for Spanish Citizenship.

Upon your arrival in Barcelona, you should initiate the residency application and registration process promptly. Within 30 days of your arrival, you should visit the local town hall (ayuntamiento) or the Oficina de Extranjeros (Foreigner’s  Immigration Office). This is to apply for your residence card (tarjeta de residencia). This could also be handled by your legal representative within Spain, who can book the appointments for you.

The visa application process requires several documents, including a valid passport, proof of accommodation, and a medical certificate. The residency card serves as an identification document. It allows you to access various services in Spain. The Spanish Authorities will also require you to sign onto the ‘Padron’ at the local town hall.

Bank Accounts and Financial Matters

Opening a bank account in Barcelona is relatively straightforward compared to some European Countries. Visit a local branch of your chosen Spanish bank, such as Banco Santander or CaixaBank. As a British Citizen, you’ll need to provide the necessary documentation. This will include your passport, proof of address, and your Spanish residency card when you have it.

Having a Spanish bank account will ease various financial transactions. Then it is easy for transferring money, pay bills, and receive your UK state pension if applicable. You can also use this account for paying taxes in Spain too.

Tax Obligations

Understanding your tax obligations when you move to Spain is crucial to avoid any legal complications. As a Spanish resident, you’ll be subject to Spanish tax laws. Ensure you register with the relevant tax authority and obtain a tax identification number (NIE).

The Spanish tax system differs from that of the UK. Therefore consulting a tax professional is vital to ensure compliance, and to explore any potential double taxation relief. This is because, as a resident of Spain, you will be paying tax on your global income.

Healthcare and Insurance

Access to quality healthcare, for all British Citizens, is very important when relocating to a new country. In Spain, residents enjoy excellent healthcare services, both public and private. To access the public healthcare system, you’ll need to register with the local health center (centro de salud) and obtain a health card (tarjeta sanitaria). However, it’s worth noting that public healthcare may have waiting times for non-emergency treatments.

Alternatively, many British expats opt for private health insurance to have more extensive coverage and faster access to healthcare services. If you have a non lucrative visa you will probably have private healthcare anyway.

There are several reputable insurance providers in Spain, such as Sanitas, Adeslas, and Mapfre. Prioritize obtaining private health insurance to ensure peace of mind and quick medical attention when needed. With your Spanish visa application, you may need to have Healthcare set up already. This is a normal thing for British Nationals, especially since Brexit.

Finding Accommodation

When it comes to living in Spain and finding accommodation in Barcelona, there are various options available for Spanish property, including renting and buying property.

If you’re initially planning to rent, consider engaging the services of a reliable estate agent (agente inmobiliario) who can guide you through the rental process and help you find suitable options within your budget and preferred location.

Spanish flag

It’s important to thoroughly review the terms and conditions of your rental contract before signing. Pay attention to the duration, monthly rent, and any additional costs or obligations. Keep in mind that landlords often require a security deposit (fianza) equivalent to one or two months’ rent. This is the same in all European Countries.

For those considering buying property, Barcelona offers a diverse real estate market. Engaging the services of a reputable real estate agency can be invaluable in navigating the buying process, understanding local regulations, and finding your dream home in Barcelona.

Education and International Schools

If you’re moving to Barcelona with your family and have school-age children, British Citizens will find a range of excellent schools in the city. Spain is an EU Country that has many International schools. These provide an English-language education and follow different curricula, including British, American, or the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

Some well-regarded schools in Barcelona include the British School of Barcelona, the American School of Barcelona, and the Benjamin Franklin International School.

Finding a Job or Starting a Company

Barcelona offers a thriving job market with a diverse range of industries and opportunities. For British Citizens living in Spain looking to find employment in the city, it’s advisable to start your job search before moving. Online job portals, such as InfoJobs, LinkedIn, and Indeed, are excellent resources for exploring available positions.

Networking events and job fairs are also common in Barcelona and provide opportunities to connect with a spanish company and expand your professional network.

If you’re considering starting a Spanish Company in Barcelona, the city boasts a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem. As a Spanish resident, you have the freedom to establish a Spanish Company (sociedad limitada or sociedad anonima). Then you can take advantage of the favorable business environment.

Barcelona is home to many co-working spaces, startup incubators, and business support organizations that can assist you in the process of launching your company. The Spanish government may even be able to help, make sure you talk to a legal and business professional to find out more.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the legal and administrative requirements for starting a business in Spain. The Spanish Consulate at the Spanish Embassy can help with this.

barcelona expat guide

Consulting with a local lawyer or business advisor can also help you navigate the necessary steps. These will include things such as registering your company, obtaining the relevant permits and licenses, and complying with taxation and employment regulations.

Whether you’re seeking employment or venturing into entrepreneurship, living in Spain, especially Barcelona, there are a wealth of opportunities. With its vibrant business scene and entrepreneurial spirit, the city embraces innovation. It also welcomes individuals who are eager to contribute to its dynamic economy.

Other useful information

Barcelona Tourism Board

Best Site to Find Jobs In Barcelona

Keep Up To Date With The Weather

Moving to Barcelona as a British citizen offers an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in a vibrant culture, explore a breathtaking city, and enjoy a high quality of life. By understanding the Spanish visa requirements, residency process, healthcare system, and other essential aspects discussed in this guide, UK Nationals can be well-prepared for a smooth and stress-free transition.

Remember, it’s always advisable to seek professional advice and support from relocation specialists or immigration lawyers to ensure compliance with the Spanish authorities and make your move to Barcelona a successful and fulfilling experience.

Indalo Transport Ltd. is a UK and Spain based European removals company specializing in assisting british citizens moving to Spain.

We have helped individuals and families with their international moves fro more than 10 years. We don’t deal with other European Countries apart from France and Ireland, so we truly are Spain Experts.

With our knowledge and experience, we ensure that your belongings reach their destination safely and efficiently, with full customs management. This allows you to focus on settling into your new life in Barcelona as a Spanish citizen once you have your residence permit!

girl Barcelona - Indalo Transport

Hopefully this will be you soon, jus chilling out, taking in the sites of beautiful, albeit chaotic Barcelona!

Moving to Barcelona from UK

We really hope our Moving to Barcelona an expat guide has been helpful. You’ve maybe learned something new about this wonderful place, or it’s helped you to make your decision and you’re thinking of moving to sunny Barcelona!

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